Welcome to the World of

116 downloads 122030 Views 961KB Size Report
Dear Reader,. I'm delighted to welcome you to the World of Stephanie. Laurens. Why “the World”? Because that's the most ac- curate way of describing how my ...


Stephanie Laurens

“You don’t think, perhaps, that he might be tempted to throw me and Daniel to the wolves to save you? To save the honor of his house?” Eyes blazing, Alex pushed upright. “Of course he will!” Alex shouldered past Roderick and fell to pacing, a great deal more violently than Roderick had. Daniel reached for the letter. It took him only a moment to find the relevant line. Lips tightening, he tossed the letter back on the table. Sitting back, he caught Roderick’s eye. “My name, too, brother-mine. And just when were you going to remember to tell us?” “I didn’t know—I swear I didn’t know.” Pale, looking suddenly ill, Roderick raked a hand through his hair. He glanced at Alex, who shot him a murderous look, then he hauled in a huge breath. “We don’t need this. We need to concentrate. I was in a rush when I wrote the damned thing—remember? I didn’t even register that I’d used your real names.” “Make no mistake,” Alex scoffed. “Our father will register that, if he’s ever shown it.” “So we make sure he never sees the damned thing.” Roderick swung to Daniel, who was leaning back in his armchair, his face a mask. “We’ll intercept all the letters—the copies as well as the original. Chances were we would have had to do that anyway in order to seize the original.” Roderick glanced at Alex, still pacing viciously, then looked back at Daniel. “So—Hamilton’s next.” Roderick stole another glance at Alex. “What are we going to do about him?” “Not we. You!” Swinging around, Alex pointed a finger at Roderick. “You asked before where you might find a man to replace Larkins. His replacement, Roderick, is you!” Another jab of Alex’s finger emphasized the word. “You take on Larkins’s role, and you get those damned letters back— every copy, every last one!” Roderick’s eyes narrowed to shards of blue ice. “All right.” Face set, he nodded. “I will.”

UntamedBride_i_iv_1_442_1pDS.indd 344-345

Welcome to the World of

6/8/09 9:24:00 AM

Dear Reader, I’m delighted to welcome you to the World of Stephanie Laurens. Why “the World”? Because that’s the most accurate way of describing how my books relate to one another—each is a separate window onto the same largely fictional world. Family and friendships are what make any world go around, at least on the personal and emotional plane. Consequently, although each of my books focuses on two principal characters—the hero and heroine, as neither exist in a vacuum—their brothers, sisters and other family members, or their close friends, appear in their story, and in return the hero and heroine of one book are very likely to waltz past in the background of one of their sibling’s or friend’s books. My world is a part of the haut ton of Regency England, a specific social strata peopled by the “upper ten thousand,” the aristocratic families and their connected offshoots. My characters all belong to this relatively small group of people, so it’s unsurprising that some characters, such as the fabled Lady Osbaldestone and Helena, Dowager Duchess of St. Ives, appear in many stories, lending their wisdom and guidance as ladies of their age and experience tend to do. Similarly, various characters from the Cynster novels swan past in the backgrounds of the Bastion Club novels, and vice versa. So each book, although focusing on one or other couple, gives you another glimpse into the lives of the same larger group in society.

UntamedBride_i_iv_1_442_1pDS.indd 346-347

6/8/09 9:24:01 AM

I hope you enjoy visiting my world through my books already published, as well as the works to come. Read on to discover more—answers to questions about the world’s structure, what’s real, what’s not, and numerous other issues readers love to know. Have fun!

Stephanie Laurens

UntamedBride_i_iv_1_442_1pDS.indd 348-349


This section is designed to help you navigate around my world by showing you how the books interrelate (there’s a diagram!—A Picture of Stephanie’s World), as well as how various individuals are related (updated and extended family trees!—and yes, there are more children shown). I’ve always resisted labelling my works a “series,” because to readers “series” implies one of two things—the books are written in a fi xed chronological order, and/ or the plots are such that you must read the books in a fi xed order, namely the order in which they were published. With my works, neither of those is true. The only aspect that links every book into the group is the characters. Each book can be read entirely on its own, without loss of meaning. Much confusion is generated when readers assume that a long-running group of novels is necessarily written in chronological order. Since the release of The Taste of Innocence, I’ve been innundated by emails from readers wishing to point out that in that volume, Simon Cynster and Portia are not wed. “But they were married in book number ten!” the readers cry. “Ah,” say I. “But have you noticed that The Taste of Innocence is set more than two years before the events of The Perfect Lover?” So no, Simon and Portia are not yet married in The Taste of Innocence. Why jump around in time? Because of characters’

6/8/09 9:24:01 AM

ages. There’s a gap of nine years between The Perfect Lover and the book before it, On a Wicked Dawn. But after On a Wicked Dawn, readers wanted to hear Simon and Portia’s story straightaway, as the next volume, and because of their respective ages in On A Wicked Dawn, that meant jumping from 1825 to 1835. The following Cynster novel, The Ideal Bride, then had to step back to 1825, to pick up the story of Michael Anstruther-Wetherby immediately after he’d left a wedding breakfast that occurred midway through On a Wicked Dawn. The subsequent Cynster novels were about a group of friends who were also Cynster connections, and were set in 1831, 1831, then 1833, followed by Where the Heart Leads, set in November 1835 – the first book to be set after The Perfect Lover. And yes, Simon and Portia are married in that. But now we’ve swung back again, to 1825 for the story of Jonas Tallent in Temptation and Surrender, and in years to come we’ll advance through time once more as we move through the romances of the five as-yetunwed Cynster girls. Again, the year in which each of their stories are set will be determined by their ages. The month and year in which each novel commences is always stated at the start of chapter one. To help you keep track of when each novel occurs, we’ve included a Chronology of Works—The Windows onto the World of Stephanie Laurens, showing both the already published works and those expected to be published in years to come. Just to whet your appetite. Yes, I know that’s evil, but part of the fun of writing groups of novels is the anticipation. Now on to some specific questions readers often want answered:

UntamedBride_i_iv_1_442_1pDS.indd 350-351

How real are the Cynsters? And their houses?

Not real at all. The Cynsters are not based on any family that actually existed. Some readers are convinced I’m working from some family’s archives, but no—Cynsters, Bastion Club members and all others are entirely figments of my imagination. The only characters in my novels who ever existed are historical figures such as the Prince Regent, the patronesses of Almack’s and a few social and/or political figures mentioned in passing, like Wellington. Real people are never central characters in my works. Likewise their houses. No, you cannot go on a tour of England viewing the various “Cynster” houses—they don’t exist, and never have. They are not even modeled on houses that exist, or have ever existed. That said, I lived in England for four years and visited many stately homes, so my imaginary houses are “conglomerates” of houses I’ve walked through—the bedroom from here, the Adam fireplace from there—all mixed up and swirled together in the melting pot of my memory. So what is real?

In my works, the geography mapwise is accurate— roads are where I say they are, and go from this town to the next as I say they do, and yes, it would take a curricle that long to travel that distance. My streets of London really are the streets of London, and the relative affluence of the various areas is as pertained during Regency times. However, my topography is fictional—if I need a hill with a certain view along this particular road at that point, then that’s where the hill will be. I’m describing views that are known to exist in the neighborhood, and which in many cases I’ve observed firsthand, but the precise location of that lookout is my creation. As mentioned above, all known historical figures are accurately portrayed.

6/8/09 9:24:01 AM

Otherwise . . . one point to bear in mind when reading the works of storytellers is that we are writing to entertain you, not to educate you. Consequently, while we necessarily must use sufficient historical accuracy to create the right ambience and atmosphere for whatever period we’re using, getting buried in historical detail isn’t entertaining, nor is adhering to historical detail to the detriment of the story. If there’s a point where minor historical detail gets in the way of telling a good story, then history has to give way to storytelling, because it’s you, the reader, we have to satisfy, not the history police. As an example of that last point, think of men’s shirts. Buttons down the front of men’s shirts were not widely used until the early 1830s. However, I’ve decided that my Cynster and Bastion Club novel male characters all went to a shirtmaker who was ahead of his time— logically there must have been at least one shirtmaker who started the trend; they’d had buttons for some time. So my male characters’ shirts often have buttons down the front. Why? Because all my heroines are significantly shorter than their respective heroes, and there is no way on earth a shorter female can divest a taller, much broader male of a shirt that doesn’t have buttons down the front. And believe me, there are only so many ways you can write a love scene where the hero has to break away, step back, and pull his shirt off over his head. Yes, you can do it well once or twice, but routinely, shirts without buttons down the front are . . . limiting. On the other hand, what I write about society and its mores, social strictures and boundaries is real—a fairly accurate portrayal of what went on in the upper echelons of society at that time. For those who are Austen fans and fondly believe she depicted how all English society behaved in terms of marriage and courtship— think again. Austen only wrote of one aristrocrat in all

UntamedBride_i_iv_1_442_1pDS.indd 352-353

her works (Lady de Bourgh in Pride and Prejudice), and that picture is widely accepted by Austen scholars as a caricature. Austen’s works are socially accurate, but she wisely limited the social class of which she wrote to her own. She was a country vicar’s daughter and had no experience of, and so never attempted to write of, the aristocracy—the haut ton to which all my characters belong. And all the factual evidence suggests that in wider society, and especially the higher echelons of the upper classes, then as now, intercourse was considered an integral and normal part of courtship, albeit serious courtship; it was not something left to the wedding night except in unusual circumstances. The average age at which women married varied between twenty-two and twenty-four throughout this period. On matters such as politics, commerce, police and military actions, and so on—for instance the Peninsula War battles referred to in many of my novels, or the investment in building of railways in The Taste of Innocence—the actions described either did happen, or could have happened, at the time and in the way I have described them. Overall, I adhere to the one guiding rule any author writing historical fiction should follow: whatever you describe has to be possible. It may not be common, obvious, or even all that probable, but it absolutely has to be possible. Why are there so many historical romances, including all of mine, set in Regency England?

Most books set in England between 1800 and 1840 have a “Regency” feel. The reason that era is so useful for romance authors stems from the wide-ranging social changes that were occurring over that time, and the parallels, or echoes, those create with our time, and the lives of our readers. To summarize these:

6/8/09 9:24:02 AM

a) Whether it was the influence of the romantic poets (late 1700s) or simply the passage of years, by the early 1800s it was becoming increasingly acceptable for aristocratic couples to marry for love, as distinct from what prior to that period had been considered the right and proper and indeed only acceptable reason for marriage for them—the transfer of property and the getting of an heir. So for the first time, aristocratic heroes and heroines were faced with a real choice –to marry for love, or not. That is a choice that resonates with today’s readers—to marry for love, or not. b) Aristrocratic females had a greater degree of freedom provided they were wealthy enough and remained unwed. Or married a man amenable to allowing them their independence. In other words, aristocratic females, unlike their more lowly born peers, could be sufficiently independent to create their own lives—like Phoebe Malleson in To Distraction, and Sarah Conningham in The Taste of Innocence. Such women could create lives that did not revolve around marriage, yet still remain accepted within their social circle. Some, like Penelope Ashford, could be quite eccentric, but because of their social standing and that of their families, remain accepted by the ton. Sadly, this relative freedom did not long survive Victoria’s marriage to Albert, hence the “Regency” period is something of a window for independent women, and again, that independence, the search for their own lives outside of or beyond marriage, resonates powerfully with women today. c) The haut ton—the upper echelon of society—lived in a fabulous, glittering world, with massive houses, expensive clothes, dashing carriages. The background to stories set in the haut ton is attractive to readers—a glimpse into a glamorous world of wealth and consequence. Just as the lives of wealthy modern-day celebri-

UntamedBride_i_iv_1_442_1pDS.indd 354-355

ties exerts a powerful attraction for readers, so too do the lives of their historical counterparts. d) There was a great deal of social upheaval going on throughout the wider Regency period, leading to the emergence of social and political conscience that went further than noblesse oblige. This creates a background with a wide range of potential avenues to exploit for story plots—such as employment agencies, orphanages and investment schemes—as well as adding edge to the more usual intra-family plots. Why are heroes and often heroines usually wealthy aristocrats?

The answer lies above. It was only those belonging to the haut ton who were faced with the question to marry for love or not—and who were free to do so and could decide either way. In all other social strata, the reason for marriage had for centuries been largely because of physical attraction. In Regency times, the middle class had not yet come into being. Below the aristocracy, there came various levels of gentry, then those involved in commerce, and the shopkeepers and traders, and then the workers and peasantry. As Austen’s works demonstrate, within the gentry, even if there was a token nod toward wealth and family standing as criteria, liking for a partner played the major role in determining marriages. Not so for the members of the haut ton—for them, this period is the first when they, free of all other constraints as no other class could be, came to face the question: To marry for love, or not? Today that is still the crucial question in any romance. So it’s the characters and the social world of the aristorcracy that most strongly resonate with modern-day readers and the questions and challenges modern readers face. This is why in Regency-set novels, the aristocratic world is the favored setting.

6/8/09 9:24:02 AM

The Cynsters

UntamedBride_i_iv_1_442_1pDS.indd 356-357

6/8/09 9:24:02 AM


The Cynster Family Tree * Lady Eleanor McEnery (d)

SEBASTIAN 5th Duke of St. Ives (d)

Helena Rebecce de Stansion Comtesse d’Lisle

SYLVESTER 1 DEVIL 6th Duke of St. Ives

ARTHUR Almira Butterworth (d) CHARLES (d)


11 Honoria

Horatia Rotherwell


Louise Vennacombe




Augusta — Herbert Marquess of Huntly

Lady Celia Hammond

12 Patience







Therese MARTIN

13 4 HARRY — Felicity Dillon — Priscilla DEMON Richard

SEBASTIAN MICHAEL Louisa Marquess of Earith


* Lucilla














8 Martin




The Rawlings Family Tree Gyles 5th Earl of Chillingworth



Amanda Amelia


see the Fullbridge-Ashford Family Tree



















the cynster novels 1. Devil’s Bride 2. A Rake’s Vow 3. Scandal’s Bride

4. A Rogue’s Proposal 5. A Secret Love 6. All About Love

❖ Special—The Promise in a Kiss

7. 8. 9. 10.

All About Passion On a Wild Night On a Wicked Dawn The Perfect Lover

11. 12. 13. 14. 15.

The Ideal Bride The Truth About Love What Price Love? The Taste of Innocence Temptation and Surrender

MALE Cynsters in capitals denotes twins



UntamedBride_i_iv_1_442_1pDS.indd 358-359

6/8/09 9:24:02 AM


The Fulbridge-Ashford Family Tree 4th Earl of Dexter

Connections to Cynsters noted*



5th Viscount Calverton

Cynster twins* A Martin 5th Earl of Dexter

Amanda B Lucian 6th Viscount Calverton



Amelia Edward (banished—see A)

E Penelope



Lord Kirkpatrick

C Portia

Edgar Arthur


Barnaby Adair

Simon Cynster*


Bartholomew D Anne

Reggie Carmarthen



A. On a Wild Night B. On a Wicked Dawn C. The Perfect Lover

D. Lost & Found (novella in anthology Hero, Come Back) E. Where the Heart Leads

*See Cynster Family Tree


UntamedBride_i_iv_1_442_1pDS.indd 360-361

6/8/09 9:24:02 AM

Peek at the Book

First published March 1998

Was he the husband of her dreams . . . or a devil in disguise?

Her heart in her throat, Honoria lifted her gaze to the rider’s face—and met his eyes. Even in the dimness, she was sure of their color. Pale, lucent green, they seemed ancient, allseeing. Large, set deep under strongly arched black brows, they were the dominant feature in an impressively strong face. Their glance was penetrating, mesmerizing—unearthly. In that instant, Honoria was sure that the devil had come to claim one of his own. And her, too. Then the air about her turned blue. SETTING

1818 England When Devil, the Duke of St. Ives and the most infamous member of the notorious Cynster family, is caught in a compromising position with plucky governess Honoria Wetherby, he astonishes the ton by proposing marriage. No one ever dreamed this scandalous rogue would ever take a bride! Honoria, however, isn’t about to bend to society’s demands and marry a man simply because they’ve been discovered together unchaperoned. She craves adventure and longs to see the world—and though she’s more than happy to assist him in solving the murder of a young Cynster cousin, once the crime is put to rest she intends to bid Devil farewell forever. But she underestimates the seductive power of this daring, dangerous man, and the scalding heat of her own unsated desire. Does she dare let passion carry her into Devil’s embrace . . . and into the most perilous, rapturous adventure of them all?

UntamedBride_i_iv_1_442_1pDS.indd 362-363


Devil Cynster Honoria Anstruther-Wetherby RECURRING CHARACTERS Members of the Bar Cynster Gyles Rawlings, Earl of Chillingworth Helena, Dowager Duchess of St. Ives

6/8/09 9:24:02 AM

Peek at the Book

First published October 1998

He vowed never to marry. She vowed no man would trap her. But some vows are meant to be broken. . . .

Patience looked up and met the stranger’s hooded gaze. As she watched, his grey eyes darkened. The expression they contained—intensely concentrated—sent a most peculiar thrill through her. She blinked; her gaze fell—to the man’s lips. Long, thin yet beautifully proportioned, they’d been sculpted with a view to fascination. They certainly fascinated her; she couldn’t drag her gaze away. The mesmerizing contours shifted, almost imperceptibly softening; her own lips tingled. She swallowed, and dragged in much needed breath. SETTING

Vane Cynster greatly enjoys his dalliances, but he’s always remained aloof when other Cynster men stepped up to the altar. Resolved to never submit to being leg-shackled to any woman, he believes he’s found the ideal temporary refuge from London’s infuriating husband hunters at Bellamy Hall. But an encounter with the irresistible Patience Debbington has his head—and his heart—spinning . . . and soon he has more than mere seduction on his mind. But Patience is not about to succumb to arrogant, presumptuous Vane’s sensuous propositions. Certainly his kisses leave her weak, his caresses leave her flushed and burning with desire. But he is bound to be unfaithful—just like every other man—and despite his assurances, she will not trust the handsome, elegant rogue with her heart. But can a promise to resist temptation stand firm when passion demands otherwise?

UntamedBride_i_iv_1_442_1pDS.indd 364-365

1819 Northampshire CHARACTERS

Vane Cynster Patience Debbington RECURRING CHARACTERS Therese, Lady Osbaldestone Minnie, Lady Bellamy & Timms Gerrard Debbington

6/8/09 9:24:03 AM

Peek at the Book

First published March 1999

Catriona Hennessy wants an heir. Richard Cynster wants the rights of a husband. But neither wants the inconvenience of a wedding. Catriona is aghast to learn that her guardian’s will decrees that she must marry Richard Cynster . . . within the week! How could the proud Scottish lass possibly consent to a union with the English rake they called “Scandal,” a masterful man with a deplorable reputation? It is true his commanding presence charms her, his heated kisses excite her—and the mysterious Lady of the Vale whom she serves has prophesied that they will wed. But Catriona will never give up her independence. Richard is equally stunned by the will’s command, since marriage was not on his agenda. But lately he’s been feeling strangely restless—and perhaps taming the exquisite lady is just the challenge he needs. He burns for Catriona—but can he entice her into the marriage bed without making any binding and revealing promises of love? And when passion and love are truly destined, can even the most stubborn of hearts resist?

UntamedBride_i_iv_1_442_1pDS.indd 366-367

“I’ll have you know this is all a very big mistake!” With that, she whirled away. Snow crunched, louder than before, as, in a flurry of skirts and cloak, she stalked off. Brows rising, Richard watched her storm through the lychgate, saw the quick, frowning glance she threw him from the shadows beneath. Then, with a toss of her head, chin high, she marched up the road. Toward the inn. The ends of Richard’s lips lifted. His brows rose another, more considering, notch. Mistake? He watched until she disappeared from sight, then stirred, straightened his shoulders, and, lips curving in a wolfish smile, strolled unhurriedly in her wake. SETTING

1819 Scotland CHARACTERS

Scandal Cynster Catriona Hennessy RECURRING CHARACTERS Helena, Dowager Duchess of St. Ives Devil Cynster, Duke of St. Ives Honoria, Duchess of St. Ives

6/8/09 9:24:03 AM

Peek at the Book

First published October 1999

Once a Cynster man meets the woman of his dreams, he will not rest until he possesses her completely. . . .

With an arrogant smile, Harold Henry Cynster—Demon to everyone, even to his mother in her weaker moments—drew his curricle to a flourishing halt in the yard behind his Newmarket stable. Tossing the reins to his groom, Gillies, who leapt from the back of the elegant equipage to catch them, Demon stepped down to the cobbles. In a buoyant mood, he ran a loving hand over the glossy bay hide of his leader and scanned the yard with a proprietorial eye. There was not a scheming mama or disapproving, gimleteyed dowager in sight. SETTING

Demon Cynster has sworn that he will never let love bring him to his knees. But now Felicity Parterger stands before him, begging for assistance. The mere chit of a girl Demon remembers is now all lush curves and sparkling eyes—so temptingly worthy of the devotion he’s given to no woman. Felicity knows that Demon is a rogue and a rake, yet only he can help her free a cousin trapped in a desperate and dangerous coil. She knows this dashing, devil-may-care bachelor will never give her the love she seeks—despite his shocking and quite unnecessary proposal of marriage. The last thing she wants is a man marrying her because he thinks he should, yet a fevered, irresistible desire sweeps through her every time he takes her into his arms. But can a union built on passion alone be satisfaction enough—especially for a man like Demon Cynster?

UntamedBride_i_iv_1_442_1pDS.indd 368-369

1820 England CHARACTERS

Demon Cynster Felicity Parteger RECURRING CHARACTERS Lady Horatia Cynster Members of the Bar Cynster Dillon Caxton

6/8/09 9:24:03 AM

Peek at the Book

First published July 2000

His fascination with her was obsession, overwhelming and complete. But she never dreamed she was so very different from all the others. . . .

Gabriel Cynster cannot refuse the mysterious woman who has come to him seeking help. For though her face is hidden by a black veil, her allure is powerful and sensuous. But Gabriel intends to exact a payment only a Cynster would demand: for every bit of information he uncovers, the lady must reward him . . . with a kiss. Lady Alathea Morwellan is desperate—otherwise she would never have approached such a dangerous gentleman. Despite the sparks that fly between them, in truth they have never passed even a single civil moment together. But each kiss she offers in payment leads to an embrace—and Alathea knows she will soon no longer be able to resist the ultimate seduction. But what will Gabriel do when he learns her shocking secret?

UntamedBride_i_iv_1_442_1pDS.indd 370-371

Gabriel raised both brows; he regarded her with veiled amusement, and a certain respect. She had a boldness rarely found in women—only that could account for this charade, well thought out, well executed. The countess had all her wits about her; she’d studied her mark and had laid her plans—her enticements—well. She was deliberately offering him a challenge. Did she imagine, he wondered, that he would focus solely on the company? Was the other challenge she was flaunting before him intentional, or . . . ? Did it matter? SETTING

1820 London CHARACTERS

Gabriel Cynster Lady Alathea Morwellan RECURRING CHARACTERS Lady Celia Cynster Gyles Rawlings, Earl of Chillingworth Lord Charles Morwellan Mr. Heathcote Montague

6/8/09 9:24:03 AM

Peek at the Book

First published February 2001

Alasdair Cynster has sworn never to pledge his heart— but Destiny has other plans. . . .

Slowly she reached out. With her fingertips she lightly traced his cheek. Lucifer felt like he’d been branded—and he recognized the brand. He surged up on one elbow, seizing her wrist, transfixing her with a glare. “It was you.” SETTING


Lucifer Cynster Phyllida Tallent The last unwed member of the Bar Cynster, Alasdair—known as “Lucifer”—has escaped to Devonshire one step ahead of London’s infuriating matchmaking mamas. But despite his dedication to avoiding the parson’s “noose,” he finds he is quite taken by the irresistible Phyllida Tallent—a willful, independent lovely who brings all of his masterful Cynster instincts rioting to the fore. Perhaps by employing his fabled seduction skills, Lucifer can satisfy his raging desire for the enchantress without the inconvenience of wedding vows. Her incomparable wit, charm and beauty have guaranteed that Phyllida will never lack for suitors—though none has tempted her quite as much as this delightful rogue. Lucifer’s offer to school her in the ways of love is almost too tantalizing to refuse. And though she has not yet surrendered completely, Phyllida is aware that only a fool resists a Cynster. . . .

UntamedBride_i_iv_1_442_1pDS.indd 372-373

RECURRING CHARACTERS Jonas Tallent Demon Cynster Felicity Cynster

6/8/09 9:24:03 AM

Peek at the Book

First published September 2001

If one is not marrying for love, one may as well marry for something else. . . .

She was a goddess designed to fill male minds with salacious imaginings, to claim their sense, snare their hearts, and trap them forever in a world of sensual longing. And she was his. And furious. With him. SETTING

1820 London CHARACTERS

Fate has made Gyles Rawlings a man determined to be in control of his destiny. He has decided to wed a well-bred lady who will dutifully bear him sons yet turn a blind eye while he takes his pleasure elsewhere. By all good accounts, Francesca will fit his bill. As for the “elsewhere,” he’s recently encountered a beautiful, brazen siren who will make a fine mistress, one with a fiery nature to match his own. But at the altar, Gyles discovers his bride is the bold enchantress who has inspired his deepest fantasies. Finding passion and love in the same woman has long been a secret fear. But as his world is rocked on its axis, Gyles becomes obsessed with possessing the one thing he thought he would never want: his wife’s heart.

UntamedBride_i_iv_1_442_1pDS.indd 374-375

Gyles, Earl of Chillingworth Francesca Rawlings RECURRING CHARACTERS Devil Cynster, Duke of St. Ives Honoria, Duchess of St. Ives

6/8/09 9:24:04 AM

Peek at the Book

First published April 2002

Where are all the exciting men in London?

Hauling her gaze from it, she looked up at him. It took a moment to get enough breath to even gasp, “You’re Dexter?” The rakish, rumored-to-be-profligate, elusively mysterious Martin Fulbridge, fifth Earl of Dexter. She certainly knew of him, of his reputation, but tonight was the first time she’d set eyes on him. When, stunned, she continued to stare, he raised one brow, cynical, yes, but world-weary as well. “Who else?” SETTING

1825 London After years spent in the glittering ballrooms of the ton, Amanda Cynster is utterly bored by the current crop of colorless suitors. One night, determined to take matters into her own hands, she shockingly goes where no respectable lady ever should, but where many an intriguing gentleman might be found. Quite suddenly out of her depth, a panicked Amanda looks for help—and is unexpectedly rescued by Martin Fulbridge, the Earl of Dexter. Lean, sensuous, and mysterious—the epitome of the boldly passionate gentleman Amanda has been searching for—Martin has delayed reentering society, preferring instead a more interesting existence on its fringes. And his sensuous touch makes it eminently clear that he would be happy to educate her in the arts of love. Now Amanda has to wonder: can such a masterful rake be sufficiently tamed into the ways of marriage?

UntamedBride_i_iv_1_442_1pDS.indd 376-377


Amanda Cynster Martin Fulbridge, Earl of Dexter RECURRING CHARACTERS Amelia Cynster Reggie Carmarthen Luc Ashford

6/8/09 9:24:04 AM

Peek at the Book

First published May 2002

“Marrying you will be entirely my pleasure.”

That brief human contact, deadened by layers of fabric though it was, sent sensation rushing through him, and told Luc unequivocally who the dervish was. Amelia Cynster. The wall behind his shoulders was the only thing keeping him upright. He stared astounded, utterly bemused . . . waited for the effect of her touch to subside . . . SETTING

1825 London CHARACTERS

Amelia Cynster hears these words from the handsome, enigmatic Lucien Ashford and is stunned. It’s near dawn and she’s risked scandal by lying in wait for him just outside his London house. But he agrees to her outrageous marriage proposal— just prior to passing out at her feet. Amelia’s torn between astounded relief and indignant affront, then decides she doesn’t care. She has always loved him—no other man will do—and, frankly, she’s tired of waiting. Sometimes a young lady needs to take matters into her own hands. But matters of the heart are never that simple. The first hitch in Amelia’s plans comes when Luc refuses to agree to a hasty wedding but insists on properly wooing her . . . in public and private. Soon she longs for those moments away from the watchful gaze of the ton, in which she can learn all about seduction from a master. But unbeknown to Amelia, Luc has a very good reason for wooing her. Every wicked gentleman has his price.

UntamedBride_i_iv_1_442_1pDS.indd 378-379

Amelia Cynster Lucien Ashford RECURRING CHARACTERS Portia Ashford Penelope Ashford Anne Ashford Helena, Dowager Duchess of St. Ives

6/8/09 9:24:04 AM

Peek at the Book

First published November 2002

What would you do if the stranger who kissed you— the most handsome man you’d ever seen—was one of the notorious Cynsters?

When a man literally fell at her feet while she was walking through the moonlit convent courtyard, Helena knew he must have been there for a scandalous liaison. Yet she kept his presence a secret from the questioning nuns—and for her silence the stranger rewarded her with an enticing, unforgettable kiss. What Helena didn’t know was that her wild Englishman was Sebastian Cynster, Duke of St. Ives . . . and that this dashing, dangerous nobleman was her destiny. And seven years later, when the tantalizing heiress is dazzling London society with her wit and beauty, Sebastian spies her from across a crowded ballroom. Helena has vowed she will accept no man who tries to tame her—but Sebastian, arrogant and unwavering, is determined to reclaim her . . . as his wife.

UntamedBride_i_iv_1_442_1pDS.indd 380-381

She heard a muted thud, then another, then, in a flurry of thumps, a body slid and tumbled from high on the wall, missing the edge of the cloister roof to land, sprawled, at her feet. Helena stared. SETTING

1783 London CHARACTERS

Sebastian Cynster Helena de Stansion, Comtesse d’Lisle RECURRING CHARACTERS Therese, Lady Osbaldestone Lord Arthur Cynster Lord George Cynster Lord Martin Cynster Augusta, Marchioness of Huntly

6/8/09 9:24:04 AM

Peek at the Book

First published February 2003

Simon Frederick Cynster is looking for a mate to suite his specific desires— a perfect lady by day . . . and a wanton lover by night.

But Simon is not about to broadcast his search to the entire ton and run the risk of every dowager foisting their flighty charges upon him. Instead, he carefully begins his search at a house party at Glossup Hall and is astonished when willfully independent Portia Ashford immediately captures his interest. He’s known Portia since childhood and certainly never considered her a potential wife . . . until an unexpectedly heated kiss changes his mind forever. But as they begin to explore the depths of their passion, a shocking event occurs, one that puts Portia in deadly peril. Does Simon have the power and the influence to protect his once and always perfect lover?

UntamedBride_i_iv_1_442_1pDS.indd 382-383

Simon felt thoroughly disconcerted. Not a common feeling, not for him; there wasn’t much in tonnish life that could throw him off-balance. Other than Portia. If she’d railed at him, used her sharp tongue to its usual effect, all would have been normal. He wouldn’t have enjoyed the encounter, but neither would he have felt this sudden disorientation. Rack his brains though he might, he couldn’t recall her ever behaving toward him with such . . . feminine softness was the description that sprang to mind. SETTING

1835 Dorset CHARACTERS

Simon Frederick Cynster Portia Ashford RECURRING CHARACTERS Lady Osbaldestone Barnaby Adair Inspector Basil Stokes James Glossup

6/8/09 9:24:05 AM

Peek at the Book

First published March 2004

Who is this man’s ideal bride?

There were only five years between them, yet although they’d known each other since childhood and had spent their formative years growing up in this restricted area of the New Forest, he didn’t truly know her at all. He certainly didn’t know the elegant and assured lady she’d become. She looked at him—caught him looking at her—and smiled easily, as if acknowledging a mutual curiosity. The temptation to assuage it grew. SETTING

1825 England Michael Anstruther-Wetherby is a rising member of Parliament, a man who has everything . . . except a wife. So he begins the search for his ideal bride—a malleable, gently bred young lady, and thinks he has met the perfect match. However, he finds an obstacle in his path, the young lady’s beautiful, strong-minded aunt, Caroline Sutcliffe. Once one of London’s foremost diplomatic hostesses, Caro has style and status—and she realizes her young niece is all wrong for Michael. This handsome, aristocratic man needs someone with strength, wit, and sensuality by his side . . . someone more like her. Suddenly Michael senses he has found his ideal bride—in Caro! Persuading her to accept his hand in marriage will take every ounce of his seductive charm. He tempts and tantalizes Caro beyond all reason—but can he convince her that becoming his wife will bring her all her heart desires . . . and more?

UntamedBride_i_iv_1_442_1pDS.indd 384-385


Michael Anstruther-Wetherby Caroline Sutcliffe RECURRING CHARACTERS Devil, Duke of St. Ives Honoria, Duchess of St. Ives Timothy, Viscount Breckenridge

6/8/09 9:24:05 AM

Peek at the Book

First published March 2005

Bold, passionate and possessive, the Cynster men let nothing stand in their way when it comes to claiming the women of their hearts.

Pushing back from the rock, he straightened and turned. Only to discover Jacqueline had leaned toward him, fighting to hold her hair with one hand. They were suddenly very close, their faces only inches apart. Her eyes widened. Her lips were parted; she’d leaned close to say something. Beyond his control, his gaze dropped to her lips. Soft, intensely feminine, shaped for passion, and mere inches away. SETTING

1831 England CHARACTERS

Gerrard Debbington, Vane Cynster’s brother-in-law, is one of London’s most eligible gentlemen. Uninterested in marriage, his driving passion is to paint the fabled gardens of Lord Tregonning’s Hellebore Hall—an opportunity that is now at hand . . . if Gerrard agrees to create an honest portrait of Tregonning’s daughter as well. Gerrard chafes at wasting his talents on some simpering miss, only to discover that Jacqueline Tregonning stirs him as no other does. Certainly, she is beautiful, but it is her passionate nature that strikes sparks with Gerrard’s own, igniting desire and sweeping them into each other’s arms, convincing Gerrard that he has found his ideal soul mate—the lady he must have as his wife. But something is horribly wrong at Hellebore Hall. Evil and lies are reaching out to ensnare Jacqueline—and Gerrard will have to move Heaven and Earth to protect the remarkable woman who, for him, personifies the truth about love. . . .

UntamedBride_i_iv_1_442_1pDS.indd 386-387

Gerrard Debbington Jacqueline Treggoning RECURRING CHARACTERS Barnaby Adair Amelia Cynster Amanda Cynster

6/8/09 9:24:05 AM

Lost and Found in First published June 2005

In an innovative new twist comes the story of a secondary character from a previous book, starring in his own story. Revisit your favorite Lost Heroes, and see old friends from your favorite books. A resourceful beauty’s determination to locate the true father of a poor foundling sets off a society scandal—and ignites a fire in handsome Reggie Carmarthen’s world-weary, aristocratic heart, in the unforgettable . . . Lost and Found.

Peek at the Book Stepping back again, she locked her eyes on his. “Thomas now knows—and Hugh hasn’t forgotten, so—” “All is well on the Benjy front. Quite.” On the last, ferociously clipped word, Reggie stepped forward again—and her back hit the wall. She didn’t dare blink. He had to be able to see her reaction, yet he took still another step. Deliberately crowding her, leaving her not an inch to breathe. She’d expected panic to overwhelm her, but it wasn’t fear that raced down her veins. She’d never felt excitement, expectation—exhilaration—to match this. His eyes, furious, cloudy, roiling with anger, held her gaze mercilessly. “All, however,” he enunciated softly, “is not right— nowhere near right—on the Reggie front.” SETTING

1834 London CHARACTERS Reggie Carmarthen Anne Ashford

UntamedBride_i_iv_1_442_1pDS.indd 388-389

6/8/09 9:24:06 AM

Peek at the Book

First published March 2006

A passionate man and a daring woman confront the ultimate question— what price love?

He drew close enough to see the expression in her eyes. There was temper there—an Irish temper to match her accent. It was presently leashed, but she was definitely irritated and annoyed with him. Because she hadn’t been able to bend him to her will. He felt his lips curve, saw annoyance coalesce and intensify in her eyes. She really ought to have known just by looking that he wasn’t likely to fall victim to her charms. Manifold and very real though they were. SETTING

1831 Newmarket Dillon Caxton, protégé of Demon Cynster, is disillusioned with love. Blessed with wealth, status and stunning good looks, he has no time for marriage-hungry misses. As a guardian of the “Sport of Kings,” he has a daring criminal scheme to thwart— one that threatens to wreak havoc on the thoroughbred racing world. Enter ravishingly beautiful Lady Priscilla Dalloway. She, too, has no time for romance—she has to rescue her horsemad twin brother from the dangerous swindle in which he’s become embroiled. But the man holding the key to finding her twin is Dillon—who allows her to believe he is immune to her charms. The lady is Dillon’s only lead to the criminals, and Pris will do anything to save her twin, including seducing the said-to-be unseducible. Linked in a journey riddled with danger and passion, they find themselves facing that terrifying question: what price love?

UntamedBride_i_iv_1_442_1pDS.indd 390-391


Dillon Caxton Priscilla Dalloway RECURRING CHARACTERS Barnaby Adair Demon Cynster Felicity Cynster

6/8/09 9:24:06 AM

Peek at the Book First published March 2007

He knows all too well how dangerous love can be. . . .

Charles Morwellan, eighth Earl of Meredith, has seen many happy, successful Cynster unions, but he also watched his father’s obsessive love nearly destroy their family, a mistake he has sworn he will not repeat. But he also knows his duty, so he has chosen a bride. Sarah Conningham is beautiful enough to grace his arm and intelligent enough to know the value of his offer. Imagine his shock when she refuses to wed for anything less than intense, unbridled, unbounded love. Now he’s determined to win her! In a tantalizing game of pleasure and persuasion, Charles courts Sarah with excruciating propriety during the day, but each night spirits her away into the lush, moonlit gardens, where he tutors her in the arts of passion. Sensual embraces soon turn to searing kisses, and much, much more. Yet after their wedding, his polite mask returns, leaving Sarah wondering which man she actually married: the controlled aristocrat, or the lover whose touch leaves her gasping. But then Sarah’s life is threatened, and Charles is forced to confront his own truths—when he discovers just how much he is willing to surrender to protect . . . the taste of innocence.

UntamedBride_i_iv_1_442_1pDS.indd 392-393

Now he was talking to her, with her, no longer on any formal plane but on an increasingly personal one; his tone had deepened, becoming more private. More intimate. She quelled a tiny shiver; at that lower note his voice reverberated through her. She’d wanted to increase the space between them for several minutes, but there was something in the way he looked at her, the way his gaze held her, that made her hesitate, as if to edge back would be tantamount to admitting weakness. His eyes held hers. Although he didn’t move, she felt as if he leaned closer. . . . SETTING

1833 Somerset CHARACTERS

Charles Morwellan, Earl of Meredith Sarah Conningham RECURRING CHARACTERS Barnaby Adair Gabriel Cynster Alathea Cynster Inspector Basil Stokes

6/8/09 9:24:06 AM

Peek at the Book First published March 2009

When a gentleman is restless, bored with the careless pleasures of London society, he needs to discover a new diversion, and if that diversion is a beautiful woman, so much the better.

Jonas released the note. She took it, tucked it in her reticule, then looked up, met his eyes—and smiled. Just like that, she scrambled his brains. That’s what it felt like as, still beaming, she rose—and he did, too, driven purely by instinct given none of his faculties were operating. Emily left with her head high and a spring in her step, but didn’t look back. For long moments after she’d disappeared, Jonas stood staring at the empty doorway while his mind slowly reassembled. His first coherent thought was a fervent thanks to the deity that she hadn’t smiled at him when she’d first arrived. SETTING

Jonas Tallent, who has masterfully taken the reins of his family’s estate, never expected a delectable morsel like Miss Emily Beauregard to step into his library, but he certainly isn’t about to hire her as manager for the village inn. A lady as tempting as Emily belongs in a ballroom, or a bedroom—preferably his. Emily herself hadn’t expected her current circumstances, but she has her reasons, and doesn’t plan to share them, even with someone as seductive as Jonas. Yet he can be so devilishly persuasive. But a villain knows her secret, and soon danger threatens—Em, her family, and the powerful love she and Jonas have found in each other’s arms.

UntamedBride_i_iv_1_442_1pDS.indd 394-395


Jonas Tallent Miss Emily Beauregard RECURRING CHARACTERS Lucifer and Phyllida Cynster and family The Reverend Joshua Filing The Villagers of Colyton

6/8/09 9:24:06 AM

Peek at the Book First published February 2008

Handsome, enigmatic and deliciously dangerous, Barnaby Adair has made his name by solving crimes within the ton. When Penelope Ashford appeals for his aid, he is moved by her plight—and captivated by her lush beauty.

Barnaby listened while she outlined an eminently rational strategy that would expose him to the basic facts, enough to ascertain where an investigation might lead, and consequently, how best to proceed. Watching the sensible, logical words fall from her ruby lips— still lush and ripe, still distracting—only confirmed that Penelope Ashford was dangerous. Every bit as dangerous as her reputation suggested, possibly more. In his case undoubtedly more, given his fascination with her lips. SETTING

1835 London More than a pretty face in a satin gown, Penelope has devoted her will and intelligence to caring for London’s orphans. But now her charges are disappearing. She turns to Adair for help, never dreaming she’ll discover in him a man who matches her appetite for life and passion. As Barnaby and Penelope unravel the mystery of the missing children, they uncover a shocking trail that leads to the upper echelons of society, and a ruthless criminal who is ready to destroy all they hold dear, including their newfound understanding of the irresistible intrigues of the heart.

UntamedBride_i_iv_1_442_1pDS.indd 396-397


Barnaby Adair Penelope Ashford RECURRING CHARACTERS Inspector Basil Stokes Griselda Martin Heathcote Montague Lord and Lady Paignton

6/8/09 9:24:06 AM

The Honorable Barnaby Adair’s Investigations Involving Cynster Connections Cornwall, June 1831—Hellebore Hall Assisting Gerrard Debbington, brother of Patience Cynster, brother-in-law of Vane Cynster, and Miss Jacqueline Tregonning In: The Truth About Love Newmarket, August 1831—The Jockey Club Assisting Dillon Caxton, cousin of Felicity Cynster, brother-in-law of Demon Cynster, and Lady Priscilla Dalloway In: What Price Love?

The Bastion Club “a last bastion against the matchmakers of the ton”

Somerset, February 1833—Morwellan Park Assisting Lord Charles Morwellan, Earl of Meredith, brother of Alathea Cynster, brother-in-law of Gabriel Cynster, and Miss Sarah Conningham In: The Taste of Innocence London, November 1835—The Foundling House, Scotland Yard & the East End Assisting Miss Penelope Ashford, sister of Luc, Viscount Calverton, sister-in-law of Amelia Cynster In: Where the Heart Leads

UntamedBride_i_iv_1_442_1pDS.indd 398-399

6/8/09 9:24:06 AM

The Bastion Club




Christian Allardyce, Marquess of Dearne (7) Lady Letitia Randall

Anthony Blake, Viscount Torrington (2) Alicia “Carrington” Pevensey

Jocelyn Deverell, Viscount Paignton (5) Phoebe Malleson

Charles St. Austell, Earl of Lostwithiel (3) Lady Penelope Selborne

Gervase Tregarth, Earl of Crowhurst (6) Madeline Gascoigne

Jack Warnefleet,Baron Warnefleet of Minchinbury (4) Lady Clarice Altwood

Tristan Wemyss, Earl of Trentham (1) Leonora Carling

Honorary Member: Royce Varisey aka Dalziel, Duke of Wolverstone (8) Minerva Chesterton 1. 2. 3. 4.

UntamedBride_i_iv_1_442_1pDS.indd 400-401

The Lady Chosen A Gentleman’s Honor A Lady of His Own A Fine Passion

5. 6. 7. 8.

To Distraction Beyond Seduction The Edge of Desire Mastered By Love

6/8/09 9:24:07 AM

Peek at the Book

First published October 1997

Before there was the Bastion Club, there was Captain Jack.

Jack’s eyes narrowed. Surely there’d been too much swing in the lad’s swagger? When on a horse, it was difficult to judge, yet the boy’s legs seemed uncommonly long for his height, and more tapered than they ought to be. With no more than a nod for his men, the lad headed the mare out of the clearing. Jack stared at the black-garbed figure until it merged into the night, leaving him with a headache and, infinitely worse, no proof of the conviction of his senses. SETTING

1811 Norfolk Bored by society’s rule and strictures, Kathryn “Kit” Cranmer yearns for adventure—and she finds it on Britain’s rugged eastern coast, dressed as a boy at the head of a ragtag band of smugglers. But there is another who rules the night: the notorious Captain Jack, the ruthless leader of a rival gang who will allow no trespassers . . . and who stops Kit’s breath with his handsome, etched features and powerful physique. In no time, Captain Jack sees through Kit’s brazen disguise—and tempts her with kisses that compel the beautiful adventuress to surrender her cherished independence for nights of incomparable bliss. But her lover is much more than he seems—a man of secrets and dangerous mystery—and becoming Captain Jack’s woman will carry Kit into a world of sensuous pleasures and unparalleled perils . . . and to new heights of excitement beyond anything she’s ever dreamed.

UntamedBride_i_iv_1_442_1pDS.indd 402-403


Jonathon, Lord Hendon Kathryn Cranmer RECURRING CHARACTERS Anthony Blake, Viscount Torrington

6/8/09 9:24:08 AM

Peek at the Book

First published September 2003

Seven of London’s most eligible—and adventurous— bachelors have banded together to form the Bastion Club, an elite society of gentlemen dedicated to determining their own futures when it comes to marriage.

With a wave, he invited her to walk with him the few steps back to the gate. She turned, only then realized her acquiescence was a tacit acknowledgement that she’d come racing out purely to meet him. She glanced up, caught his gaze—knew he’d seen the action for the admission it was. Bad enough. The glint she glimpsed in his hazel eyes, a flash that made her senses seize, her breath catch, was infinitely more disturbing. SETTING

1815 London CHARACTERS

Tristan Wemyss, Earl of Trentham, never expected he’d have to wed within a year or forfeit his inheritance. But he won’t bow to the ton’s matchmaking mamas. Instead, he’ll marry someone of his own choosing—specifically his enchanting neighbor, Miss Leonora Carling. The lady has beauty, spirit and passion—qualities Tristan seeks in a mate. Matrimony, however, is the last thing on her mind. . . . Once bitten, forever shy—never again will Leonora allow any man to capture her heart and break it. But Tristan is a seasoned campaigner who will not accept defeat, especially when a mysterious blackguard with dark designs on Leonora’s family home gives him the perfect excuse to come to the lady’s aid—as her protector, confidant, seducer . . . and husband.

UntamedBride_i_iv_1_442_1pDS.indd 404-405

Tristan Wemyss, Earl of Trentham Miss Leonora Carling RECURRING CHARACTERS Deverell, Viscount Paignton Charles St. Austell, Earl of Lostwithiel Dalziel

6/8/09 9:24:08 AM

Peek at the Book

First published October 2003

The season has yet to begin, and Bastion Club member Anthony Blake, Viscount Torrington, is already a target for every matchmaking mama in London. But there is only one lady who sparks his interest. . . .

The tableau exploded into Tony’s vision as he gained the top of the steps. Senses instantly alert, fully deployed, he paused. Slim, svelte, gowned for the evening in silk, her dark hair piled high, with a silvery shawl wrapped about her shoulders and clutched tight with one hand, the lady slowly, very slowly, rose. In her other hand, she held a long, scalloped stiletto; a streak of blood beaded on the wicked blade. She held the dagger by the hilt, loosely grasped between her fingers, pointing downward. She stared at the blade as if it were a snake. A drop of dark liquid fell from the dagger’s point. SETTING

1816 London Desperate and penniless, but determined, Alicia will make a spectacular match for her ravishing younger sister! Masquerading as the widowed “Mrs. Carrington”—the perfect society chaperone—Alicia intends to boldly launch her sibling into the ton. But fashionable ladies are not normally accused of murder. . . . Every instinct Tony Blake possesses tells him that Alicia— the exquisite, distraught beauty he discovers standing over a dead body in his godmother’s garden—is innocent of serious wrongdoing. His connections will allow him to take control of the investigation, his social prominence will certainly provide her public support. But it is more than honor alone that compels Tony to protect this remarkable, imperiled beauty—and he will do everything in his seductive power to make Alicia his.

UntamedBride_i_iv_1_442_1pDS.indd 406-407


Anthony Blake, Viscount Torrington Miss Alicia Pevensey RECURRING CHARACTERS Jack, Lord Hendon, and Kit Helena, Duchess of St. Ives Dalziel

6/8/09 9:24:08 AM

Peek at the Book

First published October 2004

After years of dedicated service to the Crown, the seven members of the Bastion Club have banded together to support each other through the most perilous mission of all: finding a bride.

Charles wished the light was better or the chair closer to the bed; he couldn’t see Penny’s eyes and her expressions— the real ones—were too fleeting to read in the dimness. He’d chosen the safe distance of the chair to avoid aggravating their mutually twitching nerves. That moment in the corridor had been enough; the urge to seize her, to have his hands on her again, had been so strong, so unexpectedly intense, it had taken every ounce of his will to resist. He still felt off-balance, just a touch insane. . . . SETTING

1816 Cornwall CHARACTERS

Impatient to find his bride-to-be yet appalled by the damsels of the ton, Charles St. Austell seeks refuge in his castle— and discovers Lady Penelope Selborne walking the deserted corridors at midnight. Years ago, they’d consummated their youthful passion on one unforgettable afternoon. And while the ardent interlude haunts Charles still, Penny wants nothing more to do with him. But resisting a stronger, battle-hardened Charles proves difficult, even though Penny has vowed she won’t settle for anything less than true love. And when a traitorous intrigue threatens them both, she discovers that her first love—a man who will not rest until he has made her his own—is her fated champion and protector.

UntamedBride_i_iv_1_442_1pDS.indd 408-409

Charles St. Austell, Earl of Lostwithiel Lady Penelope Selborne RECURRING CHARACTERS Jack, Baron Warnefleet Gervase Tregarth, Earl of Crowhurst Dalziel

6/8/09 9:24:09 AM

Peek at the Book

First published September 2005

The men of the Bastion Club are powerful, loyal, and not averse to overcoming danger if they must. Now, after years of loyal service to the Crown, they each—one by one—must face that greatest danger of all . . . love.

Jack shot a glance at the lady. Riding up, all he’d seen was her back—that she had a wealth of dark mahogany hair worn in an elegantly plaited and coiled chignon, was wearing a plumcolored walking dress, and was uncommonly tall. Sprawled on her back on the bank beyond the ditch, she struggled onto her elbows. Across the ditch, their gazes locked. Her face was classically beautiful. Her dark gaze was a fulminating glare. SETTING

1816 Gloucestershire CHARACTERS

Jack, Baron Warnefleet Lady Clarice Altwood The last of his line, Jack, Baron Warnefleet, has fled London after nearly being compromised into marrying a dreadful female. Turning his back on the entire notion of marriage, he rides home to the estate he has not seen for years, determined to set in motion an alternative course of action. But then in the lane before his gate, Jack rescues a startlingly beautiful lady from a menacing, unmanageable horse. However, while he begins by taking command, the lady continues by taking it back. Lady Clarice Altwood is no meek and mild miss. She is the very antithesis of the wooly-headed young ladies Jack has rejected as not for him. Clarice is delectably attractive, beyond eligible, undeniably capable, and completely unforgettable. Why on earth is she rusticating in the country? That enigma is compounded by mystery, and it’s quickly clear that Clarice is in danger. Jack must use every ounce of his cunning and wit to protect this highly independent and richly passionate woman . . . who has so quickly stolen his heart.

UntamedBride_i_iv_1_442_1pDS.indd 410-411

RECURRING CHARACTERS Lady Osbaldestone Deverell, Viscount Paignton Dalziel

6/8/09 9:24:09 AM

Peek at the Book First published September 2006

The gentlemen of the Bastion club have proven their courage while fighting England’s enemies, but nothing has prepared them for dealing with that most formidable of challenges: the opposite sex. Deverell, Viscount Paignton, is in desperate need of a wife. Unmoved by the matchmaking “herd,” he seeks help from his aunt, who directs him to a lady she vows is perfect for him. Dispatched to a country house party to look the lady over, he discovers her not swanning about among the guests but with her nose buried in a book in the library. Phoebe Malleson is tempted to distraction by Deverell, but marrying him isn’t part of her plan. Moved by an incident in her past, Phoebe has a secret cause to which she’s committed. Unfortunately, telling Deverell to go away doesn’t work, and he quickly learns of her secret. But someone powerful has her cause targeted for destruction—and her in their sights. Phoebe must accept Deverell’s help . . . though the cost to them both might be dear—and deadly.

UntamedBride_i_iv_1_442_1pDS.indd 412-413

Fascinating green eyes . . . and a direct gaze that was, even more to her surprise, frankly disconcerting. She wanted to look away to break the contact, yet more part of her didn’t dare . . . Who the devil was he? More to the point, her inner self whispered, what was he? SETTING

1816 London CHARACTERS

Jocelyn Deverell, Viscount Paignton Miss Phoebe Malleson RECURRING CHARACTERS Gervase Tregarth, Earl of Crowhurst Christian Allardyce, Marquess of Dearne Dalziel

6/8/09 9:24:09 AM

Peek at the Book

First published September 2007

A little bit wild and undeniably brave, the gentlemen of the Bastion Club have pursued adventures far and wide. But their exploits at home could prove to be the riskiest of all as they hunt an elusive target: the perfect bride.

Gervase was curious—and just a little intrigued. He rather liked tall women, but more than that, Madeline possessed a certain vitality—an open, honest and straightforward appreciation of life—that he found attractive in a surprisingly visceral way. She’d enjoyed their ride, and he’d felt drawn to her in that, as if the fleeting moment had been a shared illicit joy. The memory held him for some minutes; when his mind circled back to the present, he realized a smile was curving his lips. SETTING

1816 Cornwall In a moment of recklessness, Gervase Tregarth, sixth Earl of Crowhurst, swears he’ll marry the next eligible lady to cross his path. Cloistered at his ancestral castle in Cornwall, with nary a suitable woman for miles, he never expects he’ll have to fulfill his pledge, at least not until the London Season begins. But then he meets his neighbor, the very appealing Madeline Gascoigne. Years of secret ser vice to the Crown have taught Gervase the value of always having a loophole; there will be no wedding if he and Madeline are incompatible in any way. So he sets out to prove that they would make a most dreadful match . . . by luring her into his arms and, ultimately, his bed. From their very first kiss, Gervase discovers that the headstrong and independent Madeline is no meek country miss . . . and that the fire between them will burn long beyond that first seduction.

UntamedBride_i_iv_1_442_1pDS.indd 414-415


Gervase Tregarth, Earl of Crowhurst Madeline Gascoigne RECURRING CHARACTERS Charles and Penelope, Earl and Countess of Lostwithiel Christian Allardyce, Marquess of Dearne Dalziel

6/8/09 9:24:09 AM

Peek at the Book

First published September 2008

They proved their bravery fighting for His Majesty’s Secret Service and were rewarded with brides of great beauty and breeding. But one member of the Bastion Club has remained a bachelor . . . until now.

Letitia hadn’t been this close to him for twelve long years. Her decision to keep her distance when he’d reappeared among the ton had clearly been wise; even with a good six feet separating them, she could feel her rib cage tightening, enough to affect her breathing. Enough to make her feel just a touch giddy. To have her nerves stretching in telltale anticipation. An anticipation that would never be fulfilled. Not now. SETTING

1816 London CHARACTERS

“Christian, I need your help. There is no one else I can turn to . . . L.” When Christian Allardyce, sixth Marquess of Dearne, reads those words, his world turns upside down. Lady Letitia Randall is a woman like no other, and the day he left her behind to fight for king and country was the most difficult of his life. He never forgot the feel of her lips against his, but he never expects to see her again. Yet now she seeks his help, and Christian knows he will not resist her plea. Letitia believes that Christian abandoned her when she needed him most, and she hates to call on his aid. But to clear her brother’s name, she has sworn to use every weapon at her command, even if it means seducing her ex-lover. Yet all the while, Christian is waging a war of his own—a campaign of pure pleasure and sweet revenge that will take them both beyond the edge of desire.

UntamedBride_i_iv_1_442_1pDS.indd 416-417

Chris tian Allardyce, Marquess of Dearne Lady Letitia Randall RECURRING CHARACTERS Anthony Blake, Viscount Torrington Tristan Wemyss, Earl of Trentham Dalziel Lady Osbaldestone

6/8/09 9:24:10 AM

Peek at the Book

First published August 2009

The men of the Bastion Club proved their bravery secretly fighting for their country. Now their leader faces that most dangerous mission of all: finding a bride.

The passing years had honed and polished him, revealing rather than concealing the sleekly powerful, infinitely predatory male he was. If anything, that reality seemed enhanced. Royce continued to stand twenty feet away, frowning as he studied her, making no move to come closer, giving her witless, swooning, drooling senses even more time to slaver over him. Minerva thought she’d outgrown her infatuation with him. Sixteen years of separation should surely have seen it dead. Apparently not. SETTING

1816 Northumbria As the mysterious leader of the Bastion Club known as “Dalziel,” Royce Varisey, tenth Duke of Wolverstone, served his country for decades, facing dangers untold. But as the holder of one of England’s most august noble titles, he must now take on that gravest duty of all: marriage. Yet the young ladies the grand dames would have him consider are predictably boring. Far more tempting is his castle’s willful and determinedly aloof chatelaine, Minerva Chesterton. Beneath her serene façade lies a woman of smoldering sensuality, one who will fill his days with comfort and his nights with sheer pleasure. Determined to claim her, he embarks on a seduction to prove his mastery over every inch of her body . . . and every bit of her heart.

UntamedBride_i_iv_1_442_1pDS.indd 418-419


Royce Varisey, Duke of Wolverstone, a.k.a. Dalziel Minerva Chesterton RECURRING CHARACTERS All Bastion Club members and their wives Devil Cynster, Duke of St. Ives Lady Osbaldestone Jack, Lord Hendon and Kit

6/8/09 9:24:10 AM


UntamedBride_i_iv_1_442_1pDS.indd 420-421

6/8/09 9:24:10 AM

Rose in Bloom in First published June 1999

A land of legend and wild beauty—of clans, lairds, honor and passion—there’s something about Scotland that stirs our hearts to romance. Now, in one incomparable volume, four of your favorite authors present stirring tales of hearts won and weddings-to-be, featuring a quartet of unforgettable heroines about to discover the rapture of love in a world as untamed as the men they will one day marry.

Peek at the Book Fingers clenched about the doorknob, Duncan hesitated, then frowned, stepped into the room and shut the door. And advanced on his nemesis with a prowling gait. Holding the sheets of music she’d been sorting, Rose straightened as he neared—and wondered why the devil she couldn’t breathe. Why she felt as if she did not dare take her eyes from Duncan’s face, shift her gaze from his eyes. It was as if they were playing tag and she needed to read his intent in the cool blue, still as chilly as the waters of the loch rippling beyond the drawing-room windows. They weren’t children any longer, but she sensed, quite defi nitely, that they were still playing some game. CHARACTERS

Duncan Macintyre, third Earl of Strathyre Rose Mackenzie-Craddock

Every rose has its thorn . . . especially Rose Mackenzie-Craddock. When they were children, the willful girl was a thorn in the Earl of Strathyre’s side. Now, she is a beautiful woman driving him wild. But even grown-ups can play some most interesting games. . . .

UntamedBride_i_iv_1_442_1pDS.indd 422-423

6/8/09 9:24:11 AM

Scandalous Lord Dere in

First published December 2000

Once upon a time, three young women each attended a New Year’s Eve ball. . . . The moon shone brightly, music filled the air. Kisses were stolen and promises made. But what happens when morning comes? A new year brings new scandal when a rake awakens in the bed of the flame-haired temptress who had seduced him years before. All of society has them bedded, but can he convince her to become wedded?

UntamedBride_i_iv_1_442_1pDS.indd 424-425

Peek at the Book There were sounds inside—footsteps hurrying, more light gathering in the fanlight over the door. Adrian swayed on his feet, clamping Blot to his side as he heard the locks shot back. The door was pulled open by a large woman with flaming red hair. Then he heard a gasp. A slighter female pushed to the fore. “Adrian?” He recognized her voice, her eyes, and her hair—the rest had changed. His gaze dipped, steadied, then fought to raise it back to her face. And still he stared. “I was coming home . . .” It was the final shock. He went to gesture and felt himself falling. The cold blackness rushed in. He pitched forward at the feet of the sweet innocent who’d seduced him eight years before. CHARACTERS

Adrian Hawsley, sixth Viscount Dere Abigail Woolley

6/8/09 9:24:11 AM

The Fall of Rogue Gerrard in First published in October 2008

Once upon a time, four superstar storytellers came up with a delicious idea. What if they each wrote a story about a proper young lady stranded at a remote inn away from society’s constraints? What would happen? And how long would it take for her to give in to desire?

Peek at the Book Across the room, a lady whisked into the parlor, turned and shut the door. Swinging back into the room, looking down, shaking rain from an umbrella, she walked a few paces, then halted. She was swathed in a heavy cloak, the lower foot of which was wet through and muddy, but she’d pushed back the hood, revealing hair the color of burnished walnut neatly secured in a chignon, and a small oval face with delicate features. Features Ro recognized, that still held the power to stop the breath in his chest. She hadn’t seen him; she was patently unaware he was there. He frowned. “What the devil are you doing here?” CHARACTERS

Robert Gerrard, fifth Viscount Gerrard Lydia Makepeace

Robert “Rogue” Gerrard is London’s most notorious rake. But he once did everything in his power to protect Lydia Makepeace, igniting a yearning that persists to the day they are trapped alone at an inn. Fueled by desire, Lydia is determined to finally have Robert for her own delight. . . .

UntamedBride_i_iv_1_442_1pDS.indd 426-427

6/8/09 9:24:11 AM